Social Media's Bully Gets Taste Of His Own Medicine
Mark Zuckerberg's 'bad boy' image rendered from a movie, an unauthorized biography and a graphic novel was known early on to call his Facebook followers "dumb f*cks." Of recent date, he has censored Proposition 19 (for the legalization of marijuana in California) from advertising on his network, in addition to filing a lawsuit against a Web site called 'Teachbook' for daring to use the word "book" in its title.
This week, in an unprecedented move by a Web site that has built a reputation on lampooning Facebook - a site called "Lamebook" is turning the tables on Facebook with a pre-emptive lawsuit. And if that doesn't show major 'cojones,' the founders are asking its followers to donate to its legal fund to fight the case.
Launched in April 2009, the satirical ad-supported site that appeals to Facebook followers who don't mind taking a satirical swipe at the network from time to time. Users are allowed to submit humorous status updates, photos and "other gems" that parody Facebook.
The pre-emptive lawsuit is the brainchild of Lamebook's two Austin, Texas founders, Jonathan Standefer and Matthew Genitempo who have obviously patterned their Web site after Facebook's branding when it came to its name, logo and color scheme. By suing Facebook before Facebook sues them is a genius move on their part. It not only keeps the case within their state of Texas, it also pokes fun at Zuckerberg et al for taking on similar types of frivolous lawsuits. Apparently in addition to Teachbook, Facebook had also threatened a suit against a site called Placebook, which apparently has already changed their name to TripTrace.
In a TechCrunch report back in August, Robin Waters penned an editorial titled "Hey Facebook, Here Are Some Other Companies You Can Bully or Sue." In that post, she named dozens of companies that included "book" in their titles. From established Web sites with names such as "Cookbook," to "eBook," it becomes quite obvious as to the level of absurdity Zuckerberg would have to go if decided to sue all these legitimate businesses.
Vice versa, while Lamebook is probably the the youngest start-up to use the word "book" in its name, it makes their lawsuit all the more hysterical. Everyone likes fighting for the underdog - particularly when its against the growing hubris from a CEO who thinks he can dictate the rules.
On a more serious note, Lamebook's counter-argument to Facebook and the courts is that the site is a clear parody to Facebook and as such does not infringe or dilute the Facebook corporate image -and according to its founders, it should be able to enjoy protection under the US Constitution's first amendment rights.
Similarly, the graphic novel, "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks" - which is an obvious satire about some of Facebook's missteps - also falls into this category. What Mr. Zuckerberg fails to understand with all of his genius is that when you play on a large international stage, you need to be cognizant that you are going to be ridiculed, lampooned and criticized and the self-effacing stamina to take it.
Mistaking his abilty to attract over 500 million 'blind faith' followers as some kind of inalienable right to do what he wants is naive and fool-hearty. Being big enough to laugh at yourself is something the founder of Facebook will need to learn if he is going to continue to ratchet up future successes. In a post titled, "Social Media Privacy Leaks Creates More Detractors Than Promoters," I compared Facebook to US Airways. When that airline was the only game in town in Philadelpha, they ruled that airport hub. But when Southwest emerged, all of US Airways "detractors" bailed quickly because they finally had a second option.
While Facebook is the only large-scale social network online it may think it can rule supreme, but that doesn't say its "detractors" aren't building in numbers and will be ready to flee when the next shiny thing scales significantly. Power built on a corrupted logic never endures. Similar to the tragic fall from grace of one our past presidents, Richard Nixon's fatal flaw was that he didn't think the law applied to him. If the CEO of the world's largest social network was to feel the same, the writing is on the wall.
For another post pertaining to this Zuckerberg's dilemma, check out "Social Media's Bully Allows His Reputation To Proceed Him."
UPDATE: TechCrunch - November 22 - Another chapter in the Facebook vs. Lamebook, errmm, book: the social networking giant has confirmed to us that it has moved to diligently block all outgoing links to Lamebook.com, shut down the two-person company’s Facebook Page (previously at facebook.com/thelamebook), and blocks visitors of the funny site from ‘liking’ posts to boot.